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Pakistan Taliban says it downed chopper killing foreign envoys, but target was Nawaz Sharif

Pakistan-TalibanPakistan Taliban on Friday claimed responsibility for a chopper crash killing six people, including the ambassadors of Norway and the Philippines and the wives of the ambassadors of Malaysia and Indonesia, the Army said.

They said they had shot down the helicopter with a shoulder-launched missile adding they had been hoping to shoot down Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s aircraft.

“Nawaz Sharif and his allies are our prime targets,” Taliban spokesman Muhammad Khurasani said in an emailed statement.

“The helicopter was shot down by an anti-aircraft missile, killing pilots and many foreign ambassadors,” an Urdu-language statement emailed by their main spokesman Muhammad Khorasani said.

Sharif was travelling to the mountainous northern region of Gilgit on a separate aircraft to launch two projects when the accident happened. He returned to Islamabad, his office said.

Military spokesman Asim Bajwa said in a Twitter post that as well as the four foreigners, the two pilots were killed.

Leif H Larsen, the Norwegian envoy, and Domingo D Lucenario Jr of the Philippines were killed along with the wives of the Malaysian and Indonesian ambassadors, as well as the helicopter’s two pilots, according to official tweets by the army.

He said the ambassadors of Poland and the Netherlands were among the injured.

Media said 11 foreigners and six Pakistanis were on board the MI-17, which crashed into a school Gilgit and caught fire.

Media said five foreigners and three Pakistanis were killed. Bajwa was not immediately available for comment.

A senior local administrative official said: “We have been told to send in as many ambulances as we can because the situation there is ‘urgent'”.

Known for its spectacular mountain ranges and unique culture, Gilgit-Baltistan is a strategically important region that borders China and Afghanistan.

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